BY SLIM RANDLES
"Now that's the job I want," said Steve, putting down the paper. "A guy could really sink his teeth into something like that."
Doc looked up from his coffee. "Didn't know you were looking for work, Steve. Cowboying not working out for you?"
"It isn't that," said the cowboy/farrier, "it's just that a guy should always keep his eyes open so as not to miss an opportunity to better himself. That's why I'm so interested in becoming a chicken ranger."
"He said a chicken ranger, Doc," said Bert, "but I never heard of one."
"Scoff if you must, friends," said Steve with a flourish, "but right here in the pages of our own glorious newspaper comes one of the best ideas for a job I've ever heard of. It seems if your chickens run around loose, you get more money for their eggs. No. Seriously. Look at this ad. The store says they are from certified free-ranging chickens. Got it stamped right on every free-ranging egg."
"Heard about that," Doc said, nodding. "It's not that the eggs are better, but it makes you feel better about eating an egg from a happy hen, 'cause she can run around and peck on other hens and get pecked on rather than be caged."
"And therein lies my new job, gentlemen," Steve said. "Someone has to make sure those are happy, unfettered, free-ranging manufacturers of cackleberries, and I'm just the guy to get 'er done."
Bert, who takes his charter membership in the Mule Barn truck stop's philosophy counter and world dilemma think tank very seriously, said, "Doesn't sound like much work to me."
"Each egg has to be certified," Steve explained. "Gotta be a chicken ranger there to certify those hens didn't bunch up in a corner somewhere, right? So I'll be sitting there on my horse, keeping an eye on the girls..."
"On your horse?"
"Of course," Steve said. "Don't you know afoot are the two saddest words in the English language?"
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